Building a successful advocacy agenda by working together

As you can see, DC Action for Children has a new face. Our website is emblematic of our new approach to advocacy--serving as a connector and a resource to organizations and individuals dedicated to meeting the needs of the District's youngest and most vulnerable citizens, our children.

Over the last decade, science has opened our eyes to the astonishing growth patterns in a developing child's brain. This growth is most critical and frenetic during a child's earliest years, beginning at birth. As a community, we have the responsibility to ensure that all children have the opportunity to reach their full potential. Research is very clear that quality early care and education creates the foundation for lifelong learning and success--and can help break the cycle of poverty for young children.

Despite that knowledge and the efforts of many, we have not had a sustained and collective effort in the District to create the optimum environment necessary for all of our youngest children to thrive. We must connect the dots from knowledge to action. 

DC Action for Children is focusing our efforts on the early care and education and health needs of all children from birth to eight, with special attention paid to the youngest and those with the greatest need. We will work with all of those already involved in this important effort to highlight and coordinate ongoing efforts, translate remaining needs into effective programs and act as a source of information to the public. 

In the nearly 20 years in which I have been involved in DC Action for Children, we have been privileged to work with many of you to plan, coordinate and create systems that have been great successes. They include the development of the Children's Budget Report, presented in 2007 by Mayor Williams, and more recently, the launch of District's first child abuse prevention plan and the adoption of blended funding for PreK. All of these were giant accomplishments involving many players---government, advocates, providers and funders--that went fairly unrecognized. We need to celebrate these victories and rally to the next challenge--our work is far from done. 

More than a decade ago, we accomplished the unthinkable when the District became one of the first "states" to enact the CHIP program to ensure that all children were covered by health insurance. We defied the odds by working together. We can surely do it again.